Monday, October 26, 2020

Philip C. Almond's "The Antichrist: A New Biography"

Philip C. Almond is Emeritus Professor in the History of Religious Thoughtat at The University of Queensland. He is the author of many books, including Afterlife: A History of Life after Death, The Devil: A New Biography; The Lancashire Witches: A Chronicle of Sorcery and Death on Pendle Hill; Adam and Eve in Seventeenth-Century Thought; and Heaven and Hell in Enlightenment England.

Almond applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Antichrist: A New Biography, and reported the following:
Page 99 of The Antichrist: A New Biography is part of a discussion of Pope Gregory the Great’s opinions on the Antichrist. Much to my surprise, Gregory the Great’s advice on this page that we should all look within to ensure that we are not already doing the work of the Antichrist, foreshadowed the epilogue of this book.

There I argue that, whether we are Christian believers or not, the legend of the Antichrist lays upon us the ethical imperative that we take evil seriously in the here and now, as if it has metaphysical depths. In short, this is eschatology within the limits of the ethical alone.

In order to merit this conclusion, this book explores the idea of human evil through a history of the Antichrist from his origins in the New Testament to the present time in Western and Eastern Christianity, and in Judaism and Islam.

Who was the Antichrist? Simply put, he would be the perfectly evil human being who would arise shortly before the end of the world. As such, he was the Antichrist because he was completely opposite to the perfectly good human being, Jesus Christ. Just as Christians came to believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, so they thought the Antichrist was the Son of Satan. Jesus was born of a virgin. So the Antichrist would be born of a woman who was apparently a virgin, but was really a whore. Simply put, where Christ was God in the flesh, the Antichrist was Satan in the flesh.

Whether he appeared in the form of an apocalyptic tyrant outside of the Church or as the Papal deceiver within it, he provided the answer to the apparent failure of the life, death and resurrection of Christ to solve the problem of evil.

The Antichrist was the key component of a Christian providentialism that demanded, in spite of the redemption by Christ already effected, a final resolution of cosmic and human evil. For, not long before the end of the world, the resurrection of the dead and the Final Judgement, he and his armies would be decisively defeated. Death, suffering, and evil would be finally overcome.
Learn more about The Antichrist at the Cambridge University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Afterlife: A History of Life after Death.

--Marshal Zeringue